By far, the sweetest part of my day happens around 7:15am. I come home from exercising, I pickup the sippy cup full of warm milk at the top of the stairs that my husband has prepared for our sleeping son, Luca, and I walk into his bedroom. He’s usually standing in the crib gripping the sides, waiting to be scooped up, hopping from one leg to the other. After a quick diaper change (during which I struggle not to eat every single one of his toes) I take him into our big bed and snuggle him while he drinks his milk. I can hear the water running in the shower as my husband gets ready for work.
The feeling of comfort, love and peace of this ritual is almost more than I can take.
In fact, I noticed this morning how difficult it is to “be” with these moments of total joy and satisfaction. Of course it's difficult to hang with the negative emotions, but it wasn’t until this morning that I realize it’s also hard to stay present to the positive ones.
Initially I feel the oozing of joy, and within a few seconds, I'm already thinking, “soon he’ll want to wrestle and throw pillows around, and this perfect, quiet moment will be over.” And just like that, I've missed the moment.
Yesterday was another perfect example. We were at our community garden, reaping an unreal bounty of veggies, and I was weeding happily. I could hear the girls playing and giggling in a mud patch, and Luca ran up to me and threw his arms around me, and said, “I lub you mama.” I was swept up in such a powerful moment of melancholy… how could this perfect joy possibly last? Don’t all children grow up and move on? Aren’t we always left behind? Isn’t that what success looks like for a parent?
Only I would ruin such a perfectly sweet moment with the dual-side airbag of sadness and nostalgia for stuff that is barely happening now, let alone 11 years from now when my oldest daughter leaves for college.
How on earth do we stay present to this moment – even in our joy? I’m afraid to allow my heart to swell… because on the other side of swelling is diminishing. The opposite of expansion is contraction. I tell myself the lie that if I don’t swell too much, the deflation will be less painful.
How do we find the courage to allow our hearts to be blown to smithereens by the experience of this life? From the moments of aching joy, to the moments of appalling suffering?
To admit to the highs and lows is to admit to how fleeting this whole Earth School thing is. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I love this life so much, I never want it to end, and end it absolutely will.
This must be what Dr. Brene Brown means when she calls us to live with courage – not with an absence of fear, but engaging in this life with our whole hearts, knowing that it does come to an end. And experiencing every moment anyway.
Hopefully I can be brave enough to savor tomorrow’s ritual, and not be tempted to mourn the loss of the gift I’m still enjoying.